Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published: 2/7/2017
With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In Originals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions.

Originals By Adam Grant

Key Insights

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘original’?

Do you think weird and freaky?

Or, do you think special and exclusive?

In Adam Grant’s, “Originals” he explains how you can be original without carrying the eccentric stigma around with you.

“Originality brings more bumps in the road, yet it leaves us with more happiness and a greater sense of meaning.”- Adam Grant

He will show you how the world needs original people and how it’s really a good thing to be your own individual person in all aspects of life.

Key Points

  • Originality Will Help Your Career

Anybody can be an original! And, it usually starts with being curious about something. But, what exactly is an original?

An original is someone that doesn’t go by the book, who thinks up new and innovative ideas, and who is willing to take risks against modern societal thinking.

Now, being an original doesn’t mean you have to come up with some crazy invention out of nowhere. An original idea may just be something simple such as a small change that will help propel you forward.

“Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.”- Adam Grant

Michael Housman, an economist, made an observation in his research that people who kept their default internet browser at the workplace were more likely to get bored of their position, while ‘originals’ who installed their browser of choice were more satisfied with their jobs.

To succeed in the 9-5 world, being an original is key. We all have the ability to make small changes that will help improve our work and our happiness in the workplace.

However, sometimes these small changes do require some courage. So, it is important to conquer the fear of going against the crowd.

  • Quantity Leads to Quality

To create new ideas requires hard work and determination. Great ideas don’t just appear out of thin air.

Brainstorming and creating a large quantity of ideas is a surefire way to find one that is quality. You don’t have to be naturally creative to think of the best idea. Anyone has the ability if they brainstorm!

“Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.”- Adam Grant

For example, many famous artists create hundreds of works, but how many are really famous? Picasso only had a handful of famous paintings, however he created thousands of works in many forms.

Through research and experimentation, Psychologist Dean Simonton found that even artistic geniuses cannot determine which one of their pieces will be ‘the one’. That is why it is necessary to create many so that there is a higher chance for success.

By brainstorming and creating new ideas, you will begin to become more of a creative thinker, even if you were not creative at all before. However, you must understand that great ideas are not lining up to enter your brain. You must have patience and practice the art of brainstorming.

  • Procrastination

We have always been told that procrastination makes our productivity suffer, but is that really true?

Many creatives are procrastinators. And, it suits them well because leaving things to the very last second forces them to improvise in their work, which results in novel ideas.

“Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity.”- Adam Grant

Even our hero, Martin Luther King Jr. was a procrastinator. His “I have a dream” line was added when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson sang out “tell them about the dream, Martin!” during his speech. MLK then went on to describe his vision of the future of America.

MLK’s improvisation is an example of the Zeigarnik effect which is the theory that our brain stays open to new ideas even after we attempt to finish a task and give it up. King’s speech that was originally unfinished allowed for him to be open to a new direction in his point.

Another example is how some artists and writers take years to finish one work. The procrastination time allows them to gain new insights about ideas and their art.

  • Admit Your Weaknesses

We have all gotten bad responses to what we thought were brilliant novel ideas. It happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean you should trash your idea.

There are many reasons why a rejection may occur. If you present a new idea to your workplace, it may threaten a higher-up employee’s position. This theory, though true, is terrible to encourage non-mainstream thinking.

It sounds bizarre but one of the best ways to get people to accept your ideas is to tell them why they shouldn’t. Be completely transparent about all of your weaknesses. This will translate to honesty and gain trust.

  • Connect Your Ideas With Familiar Ones

It is in our human nature to reject things that we are not familiar with. This makes it hard to present something new and original to others.

But, there are ways to fight this human nature. One of them is called the exposure effect, which is the practice of exposing others to your new ideas over and over until they are more receptive to them.

Your ideas should be short and easy-to-understand. This will help with getting others familiar with them.

Another expert tip is to present your new ideas in familiar context. Make correlations between your idea and other ideas that are being utilized and accepted. This will make it much easier for others to accept your new idea.

  • Criticism

Criticism is necessary to help you and your ideas grow. If you only listen to the high praise, then you will not get far.

Charlan Nemeth conducted a study which presented people with three candidates for a job. There was one high-qualifying person, an option B who was under-qualified, and an option C. There were people who fought for the top-gun and some who fought for the underdog, but when option C was thrown into the mix, something changed. The group members started thinking for themselves and the groupthink was completely disrupted. They started to see the situation from their own perspectives rather than just following the crowd.

A way to avoid groupthink in your life is to surround yourself with people who will question your ideas.

  • Disguise Your Ideas For Support

To gain supporters of your ideas, you must present them in the appropriate way. You must be excited to keep them hooked, but, be sure not to overwhelm them.

To disguise your new idea, you must connect it to the values and morals of the people you are addressing. If they understand the correlation, it is easier for them to get onboard with something new.

Main Take-Away

Always be brainstorming new ideas in order to find the best ones. When you find a great idea share it with people and allow them to share their opinions with you. Make your idea seem familiar to your audience in order for it to become accepted.


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